The Osterbrock Mentors Circle

The Osterbrock Mentors are accomplished individuals who have played key leadership roles in organizations where future Astronomy PhDs can contribute and shine. They are deeply committed to sharing their wisdom and helping to create the next generation of national and international leaders.

Bios of current Mentors are listed below. The Circle of Osterbrock Mentors is still growing.

    Federico Faggin

  • Federico Faggin making a speechFederico Faggin is one of the founding technology giants of Silicon Valley. Born in Vicenza, Italy, Faggin received a laurea degree in physics, summa cum laude, at the University of Padua, Italy. In 1971, he led the team that built the world's first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004, followed by the Intel 8008, 8080 and 4040 microprocessors. Earlier, at Fairchild Semiconductor, he created the self-aligned MOS silicon gate technology in 1968, which made possible dynamic memories, non-volatile memories, CCD image sensors, and the microprocessor. 

    In 1974, he was co-founder and CEO of Zilog, Inc., the first company solely dedicated to microprocessors, where he conceived the Z80 microprocessor and the Z8 microcontroller, products that are still in high-volume production in 2015. He was also co-founder, CEO of Cygnet Technologies (1982), a pioneering company in the field of personal voice and data communications, and Synaptics, Inc. (1986), the developer of the touchpads and touchscreens that have revolutionized the way people interface with mobile devices. In 2003, Faggin became CEO of Foveon, a company dedicated to innovative CMOS image sensors.

    Faggin received many prizes and honors, including the Marconi Prize, the Fermi Prize, the Kyoto Prize, and the 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama, the highest honor the United States confers for achievements related to technological progress.

    In 2011, Faggin founded the Federico and Elvia Faggin Foundation to support the scientific study of consciousness at US universities and other research institutes. In 2015 the Faggin Foundation has endowed a new Chair for the Physics of Information at Santa Cruz University supporting the study of 'fundamental questions at the interface of physics and related fields including mathematics, complex systems, biophysics, and cognitive science, with the unifying theme of information in physics.'

    Faggin lives with his wife in the San Francisco Bay Area.

  • Genevieve Graves

  • Genevieve Graves headshot
    Genevieve Graves has had two careers. She earned her PhD in astrophysics at UCSC in 2009 studying the stellar populations of elliptical galaxies (Sandra Faber was her advisor). She discovered remarkable correlations between the structural properties of galaxies, and the compositions and ages of the stars that inhabit them. From these relations, Graves was able to construct the first plausible theory for how the star formation histories of ellipticals galaxies depend on their final structure.

    Her UCSC degree was followed by prestigious postdoctoral fellowships at UC Berkeley and Princeton. But then she felt the lure of Data Science and left astronomy in 2014 to co-found hiQ Labs, Inc. in San Francisco, where she serves as Chief Science & Strategy Officer. hiQ realized that a great deal of information about workers used to be hidden from public view but is now shared widely on the internet.  It can be mined for powerful insights about companies, their employees, and job candidates. The science and software products hiQ offers allows employers to understand, engage, and retain their critical talent and unlock the true potential of their people.

    Graves finds the startup world quite different but at least as exciting as academic research. She leads the science, engineering, and product teams at hiQ, including developing, validating, and deploying insights to their Fortune 500 customers. She says, “As a co-founder, I am involved in every aspect of the business.  It is fascinating to help build a company from the ground up.  I learn something new every day."

    Graves lives in Santa Cruz with her husband, science fiction writer Alex Lamb, and their son Thorfinn.

  • Steven Mandel

  • Steven Mandel 3-month old baby elephant Mbegu

    Steve Mandel founded Mandel Communications in 1983.  Mandel seeks to ready business professionals for the kinds of pivotal conversations and presentations that move business forward. For more than 25 years, Mandel has been a renowned presentations trainer and coach and the author of the highly successful book, "Effective Presentation Skills."
    In addition to serving as a key Mandel company executive, Mandel works directly with clients in one-on-one coaching and group workshop settings. He has a deep appreciation for the communication challenges faced by professionals and executives in high-stakes settings and works exceptionally well with mission-critical communication needs. Mandel Communications has clients in 75 countries around the world.

    Mandel's business success and his avocation as an accomplished amateur astronomer have earned him special recognition in Forbes magazine. He is also an award-winning wildlife photographer with photos featured in the Smithsonian Museum and leads a nonprofit foundation in support of wildlife conservation in India.

    In 2008, Mandel was awarded the Chamblis Amateur Achievement Award by the American Astronomical Society.  The Chambliss Award recognizes "an achievement in astronomical research made by an amateur astronomer... [that] contributes to the advancement of the science of astronomy.” Mandel was nominated by Adolf Witt of the University of Toledo for their joint work on wide-field imaging of high-galactic latitude cirrus using Mandel's remotely-controlled wide-field telescope in New Mexico.  The pair discovered ubiquitous Extended Red Emission (ERE) caused by ultraviolet-excited photoluminescence from the cirrus dust clouds, amounting to ~30% surface brightness of the cirrus light.

    He lives with his wife in the Monterey Bay area.

  • Cynthia Matthews

  • Cynthia Matthews

    Cynthia Mathews has been engaged in serving the Santa Cruz community for over 45 years, providing leadership across a broad variety of issues and interests. She is currently serving her sixth term on the Santa Cruz City Council, having been first elected in 1992 and serving almost without interruption since then, including three one-year terms as mayor.

    Cynthia majored in art at UC Berkeley, where she met her future husband, Bill. Together they moved to Santa Cruz when Bill joined the faculty at UC Santa Cruz as professor of Astronomy in 1970. They raised two children and have made their home in Santa Cruz ever since.

    Almost immediately upon arriving in Santa Cruz, Cynthia sparked the formation of a local Planned Parenthood chapter, and operated its early “office” from a phone on her kitchen counter. She became the local agency’s first executive director and continued as a staff or board member as the agency continued to grow, retiring in 2010 as Associate VP for Public Affairs. She remains actively engaged in women’s issues, community health, and healthcare access.

    During Cynthia’s early years in Santa Cruz she also played an active role in issues related to open space protection, state parks, historic preservation, support for local schools, and local politics. She served roughly 15 years on the City Planning Commission, and was a longtime board member/officer of the organization now known as the Museum of Art & History in downtown Santa Cruz.

    When the massive 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake struck the greater Bay Area and destroyed much of downtown Santa Cruz, Cynthia was appointed to the citizen advisory committee known as Vision Santa Cruz, charged with developing a vision and plan for rebuilding the city’s downtown core. The experience of that urgent, intense challenge, effectively bringing together people and groups who had not previously been natural allies, is what inspired Cynthia to run for Council.

    Since that time, in her capacity as a council member, Cynthia has provided leadership for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, governance and funding for the city/county library system, neighborhood constituent services, economic development, sustainable municipal water supply, community safety net services, and housing. She also serves as an elected member of the County Democratic Central Committee, and has provided key support for countless other campaigns including local revenue measures and candidates at all levels.

    Endorsing Mathews in a recent election, the Santa Cruz Sentinel said, “Mathews has long been the city’s most staunch defender, always willing to serve, however called, and with a wealth of experience and a solid record of mentorship. She’s also shown an ability to work with disparate personalities and views on past councils.” These are the qualities that qualify for membership in the Osterbrock Mentors Circle.


  • Robert Williams

  • Robert Williams in a boatRobert Williams is Astronomer Emeritus at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, MD, having served as Director of the Institute from 1993-1998. The Institute, together with Goddard Space Flight Center, operates the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA. Before assuming his present position, Williams spent eight years in Chile as Director of the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory, the national observatory of the U.S. in the southern hemisphere. Prior to that, he was Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona in Tucson for 18 years.

    Williams' research specialties are nebulae, novae, and emission-linespectroscopy and analysis. He is a strong advocate for science education and outreach and has lectured around the world on recent discoveries from the Hubble Telescope and other forefront facilities on the ground and in space.

    Williams received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkely, in 1962, and a PhD in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin in 1965, where he was one of Don Osterbrock's first Ph.D. students. He was Senior Fulbright Professor at University London from 1972-3 and received an Alexander von Humboldt
    Award from the German government in 1991. In 1998 he was awarded the Beatrice Tinsely Prize of the American Astronomical Society for his leadership of the Hubble Deep Field, a ground-breaking image with Hubble that revealed the early Universe in full breath-taking detail for the first time. For this project he was also awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Public Service Medal in 1999.

    Williams is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a past president of the International Astronmical Union, the world-wide organization serving professionsl astronomers and promoting international astronomy. He is preesntly Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he resides with his wife Elaine, a pediatric psychologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism disorders. Together, they are co-founders of an organization in Baltimore that places adults with autism in the workplace.